Sam Rapira is off to help out the Aussies.
The New Plymouth light-heavyweight boxer has been hired as a sparring partner for Australian boxers competing at the London Olympics.
Rapira heads to Canberra tomorrow at the invitation of the Oceania Olympic Committee to work with the Australian light heavyweight and World No2 ranked Damien Hooper who is representing Oceania at the Olympics.
"I'll also be sparring with boxers from the next weight up and next down as well," said Rapira yesterday.
The New Zealand No1 missed out an Olympic spot at the games due to a ruling that Oceania would only be represented by one boxer in each weight division – not two as used to be the case.
Rapira was bitterly disappointed when told the news by New Zealand boxing officials early this year, soon after earning his top ranking.
"It's good to be involved in some way, not the way I wanted to be, but it's still going to be cool," Rapira said yesterday.
He is looking forward to experiencing what it was like to be a part of a professional sporting group at the Australian Boxing Institute in Canberra and get to see for himself how that works. "It's a lot different to what I do, work two jobs and mix training with that and fulltime family commitments," he said.
"This will be the first time ever that I will be in complete immersion training like the top Australians get to do all of their careers. So it's going to be really interesting."
There is a possibility Rapira could get to show his skills next at a boxing tournament at Opunake next month.
"That's not confirmed yet, but if it is I'll be on fire by then after all the training I'll be doing in Australia."
Rapira has fought Hooper once only in his career. "He beat me on points and all I can say is that I am a lot better fighter now than I was then."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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